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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2003 Jun;14(3):296-302.

Stable-isotope probing of nucleic acids: a window to the function of uncultured microorganisms.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.


Phylogeny based on ribosomal RNA sequences alone is rarely a reliable indicator of microbial function. To circumvent this problem, nucleic acid based techniques have been developed that exploit the physical properties of stable isotopes to study microbially mediated processes within complex environmental samples. Investigations using labelled substrates, or which detect variations in the natural abundance of isotopes, have thus revealed the metabolic function of microorganisms without the need to isolate them in culture.

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